Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book 40: The Other

The Summary
Marco is watching TV when he sees an Andalite has been caught on film by a bigfoot hunter. The Animorphs all get together to see if Ax has been caught, but it turns out the Andalite on the tape was someone they've never met before. Tobias' hawk-vision is able to determine that this guy is missing his tail-blade. In Andalite society, he is a vecol, a sort of handicapped person who lives in isolation because it makes the other Andalites feel uncomfortable to have to look at him.

They try to track him down, but instead of the vecol, they meet Galfinilan. After a tense stand-off, we learn that Galfinilan and Mertil were stranded on earth after the battle in book one. Galfinilan can't introduce Mertil to the group because the Andalite fleet enforces a strict Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy a vecol has to be a recluse.

Ax realizes that Galfinilan is suffering from a painful terminal illness known as Soola's Disease. When confronted with this, Galfinilan admits that he is dying. He also says that Mertil has been captured by Visser Three, and he'd hoped to turn them in to the Yeerks to get Mertil back. The Animorphs rescue Mertil for him, and the two are reunited and left to die in peace.

The Review
Ifi: Are we on book 40 already?
Ifi: That went fast.
Adam: Seriously, we're most of the way done already.
Adam: It's weird.
Ifi: What am I even doing with my life

Adam: Is it just me, or is this book really, really cute.
Ifi: You mean in terms of cover art or in terms of gay Andalites?
Adam: Yes.

Ifi: So this is a weird-ass cover
Adam: Once again, Marco has the big, googly anime eyes.
Ifi: Marco turns into a bee in the middle of his ballet lesson
Adam: Well, they do communicate by dancing.
Adam: I'm more trying to figure out the fact that he apparently grows extra sleeves for his new limbs.
Ifi: Good of him to wear a shirt that matches the animal he is morphing
Adam: It’s easier to draw that way.
Ifi: I know that silly
Ifi: Anyway this cover is whatever and I don't really have an opinion on it

Adam: So, we start the book with Marco lounging around and watching bad television.
Adam: A time honored tradition.
Ifi: But then he starts watching one of those crappy bigfoot-finding shows
Ifi: You know, the ones that are an insult to everyone’s intelligence
Adam: You'd think he already gets enough of aliens during the day.

It was just a blue blur moving across the screen. Not much more than that. A small piece of videotape taken with an unsteady hand in terrible light conditions.

But it was enough.

My foolproof danger alarm went off. Loud.

"Could this be proof positive of the existence of the magical unicorn of medieval lore?" the host intoned. "Or could this strange blue creature be the mighty centaur of Greek mythology? Let's take another look."

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: Unicorn!



Adam: (Not this:)


Ifi: Really who the fuck sees an Andalite and thinks "unicorn"
Ifi: I mean I know the people who watch these shows are stupid
Ifi: But jeez
Adam: This is a show written by eight year old girls

Adam: So, they all meet up to discuss what to do if Ax has accidentally become an impromptu TV star.

Tobias swooped off his perch and landed, gracefully, a few feet from the television screen.

<You don't have to,> he said. <It's not Ax.>

"So it's the visser," I said. "Well, that's a little beyond weird."

<No. Not the visser.> Tobias turned his incredibly intense hawk eyes on us. <Kids, I think we've just discovered another Andalite.>

Ax pulled his shoulders back. <Is it…>

<lt's not Estrid. Sorry, Ax. Not Arbat, either.>

"Alrighty then. Who?"

<This guy's new. And he's got one real obvious distinguishing feature. He's got only half a tail.>

<A vecol!> There was disbelief in Ax's voice. Something else, too. More than his normal, well, arrogant tone. It sounded like disgust.

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Ok so in case you've forgotten
Ifi: Andalites are dicks
Ifi: And in case you couldn't infer it
Ifi: They are especially dicks to the disabled
Adam: You'd think being pals with a nothlit for about two years now would help Ax get over his ableism a bit, but apparently not.
Ifi: Anyone who is not 100% healthy is sent away to live in a cave or whatever
Adam: I mean, they have superior medical technology to us, so this wouldn't come up as much, but yep, they are apparently enormous dicks to anyone with some kind of weird genetic disorder.
Adam: As we will soon see

<He is disabled. A cripple,> Ax answered coldly. <And his presence here will obviously be a problem.>

"Yeah," I agreed, looking back to the hazy image on the screen. "The Yeerks get ahold of him, they've got another morphing Andalite on the team. Not good."

<No. The Yeerks would have no use for his body. He is completely useless as a host.> Ax waved his frail hand in a dismissing motion. <Without a tail blade he cannot fight. And it is obvious this vecol is incapable of morphing or he would have restored his tail from his own healthy DNA.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Jeez Ax what the hell man
Adam: Um
Adam: He can still hold a firearm.
Adam: And his head is still probably full of useful military secrets.
Adam: I mean, the reason Esplin got such a huge promotion after talking over Alloran was because of all the Andalite intelligence the empire got from it.
Ifi: So the Animorphs go crashing around the woods to find this dude

Adam: Meet Galfinilan.

This Andalite had a monstrous tail, long and thick. And at its end, a blade that, to my terrified eyes, looked a lot like that scythe thing the Grim Reaper carries.

I was barely finished demorphing when the Andalite started to walk toward Ax. His tail sliced the night air menacingly, blade glinting in the light of the almost full moon. Each hubcap-sized hoof clomping the dewy ground, sending little clods of soil flying. Field mice scurrying.

This was no—vecol. This guy was massive. Bigger than any Andalite I'd ever seen. Bigger than Ax's brother, War Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul. Bigger than Aloth-Attamil-Gahar. Bigger even than Alloran-Semitur-Corrass, host body to Visser Three.

Shoulders like a fullback. A chest that was cut like a competition-level bodybuilder. Arms that, except for the blue fur, could pass for those of a middle-weight champion. Even the usually small and delicate many-fingered Andalite hands were broad and toughened. Like those of a carpenter or construction worker.

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: Galfinilan is basically the Andre the giant of the Andalite military.
Adam: Anywho, I really like this guy.
Ifi: Tobias, despite usually being the smart one of the group, decides to attack this guy
Ifi: Galfinlian responds by nearly slicing him in half
Adam: That is…uncharacteristic.
Adam: Also, totally unneeded.
Adam: Galfinilan really just wants to be left alone in the woods so he can protect his boyfriend.
Adam: That would be Mertil, who was the tail-less guy they saw on TV earlier.

<Yes,> Ax said. <Although I begged to be allowed to fight, I was sent to wait out the battle in the dome. Until quite recently, I was under the impression I was the only one who had survived. Perhaps I have been mistaken. I witnessed the video of the vecol…>

<The vecol!>

The roar of the Andalite's angry thoughtspeak was deafening. It actually made my head hurt. I watched helplessly as he pushed his tail blade even deeper into the skin of Ax's neck. Drawing a small trickle of blood.

<His name is Mertil-lscar-Elmand,> the Andalite went on, in a slightly more normal tone. <And you will do well to remember that, aristh.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Yeah
Ifi: They're boyfriends

<I must do nothing,> Gafinilan retorted bitterly. <l am no longer a warrior, Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. My sole purpose now—indeed, my duty and my responsibility—is to care for Mertil. As you have noted,> he added, his tone darkening, <he was badly injured in our last battle. The one that stranded us on this planet, so far from our home.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Scratch that
Ifi: they're married
Adam: Excuse me, but I feel I must say this:
Adam: Awwwwwwwww
Adam: Seriously, this is the best written romance in the series.
Ifi: Certainly more compelling than Ax and Estrid
Adam: That's not really a fair example, I mean even he didn't like her.

Ifi: So Gafinlian flounces, but the Animorphs follow him because I guess they have nothing better to do with their time
Ifi: It turns out that our new friends are hiding in plain sight, living in a human neighborhood
Adam: Well, at least he seems nicer than the previous Andalites they ran into.
Adam: I mean, he's hostile, but at least with good reason.
Ifi: So the Animorphs sit around and discuss the situation for a while
Ifi: They throw around the same arguments they do every book
Ifi: "Is this a trap?"
Ifi: "It this moral?"
Ifi: "Should we ignore it?"
Adam: The answer is "no" to all three.

Tobias coasted into a lazy circle, letting the thermals support him. <Not much. We followed Henry—that's what the "H" stands for—to the university. Seems he's an assistant to some academic type. Some professor who works with particle physics. Whatever that is.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Andalites enjoy college
Adam: I suppose it is the most intellectual stimulation they are going to get on this backwater little planet.
Ifi: Anyway, "Henry" gets a call and rushes home for no reason, which everyone finds suspicious

<Maybe the call was about Mertil,> Tobias mused as we swooped to about twenty feet above the greenhouse.

<Maybe it was the visser,> I said in a minorly sarcastic voice. <Don't romanticize this.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Subtext what subtext
Adam: Screw you Marco, I'm totally romanticizing this.

Gafinilan was barely visible, even to my osprey eyes, beneath the humid, curved glass of the greenhouse and the proliferation of green stuff growing inside.

<According to Ax,> Tobias explained, <gardening is a very cool hobby for Andalites. It's an art, really.>

<Great. I'll be sure to buy him a John Deere riding mower for Christmas. Any sign of Mertil?>

Tobias landed in a huge old oak tree on Mr. Henry McClellan's property. <Not that I can see. Just Gafinilan pruning some leaves. Or doing something with garden shears. He seems pretty focused.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: I love this dude
Ifi: Also his security system rivals Esplin Nobody Cares' house


Adam: Man
Adam: Do you want to go to the botanical garden now?
Adam: I totally do.

Adam: So, these two stranded Andalites somehow have a huge forcefield orbiting the house.
Adam: So now our intrepid heroes need to find a way past it, so they can go invade this poor guy's privacy.
Ifi: Well first Gafinilan invites them in to chat
Ifi: After nearly killing Marco
Adam: Andalite hospitality is weird.
Adam: Also, he and Ax take drugs.
Adam: I'm not even kidding.

Gafinilan led Ax and me through a door in the side of the greenhouse's tunnel-like entranceway. From there, we entered the house itself through a very typical back door, screen and all.

And stepped into a kitchen straight out of Martha Stewart Living or House Beautiful or Architectural Digest. One of those lifestyle magazines my stepmother is always reading.

<Your home is an accurate and attractive example of a human suburban dwellings Ax said formally.

<l appreciate your assessment, Aximili,> Gafinilan replied, just as formally. <It has been difficult, learning the many details of human culture. But it is important for Mertil and me to remain as inconspicuous as possible by hiding in plain sight. Although I must admit the relative lowness of this roof is at times disconcerting. Nothing like living under the open sky.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: *__*
Adam: Pretty!
Ifi: So it turns out that the Chee aren't the only one who have a park under their house

<Mertil and I were fortunate to have salvaged many things after the crash,> Gafinilan explained. <Most important, a good power supply and a force field generator. The latter is particularly necessary for our survival.>

I smiled wryly. "You don't say."

Computer stations. More than half a dozen of them. Each screen running a different program, none of which looked familiar to me at first glance. Several large-screen TVs. Each on and tuned to a different news program. Everything from Hollywood Style Report to CNN to the Bloomberg Report.

The floor was covered in lush, well-tended grass. No chairs, but a long, fairly high table on which lay various handheld weapons.

The walls were painted a creamy color. The ceiling, sky-blue. There seemed to be no other rooms beyond or off this large one. There might have been, of course. There might have been another secret sliding panel. There probably was.

Because we did not see Mertil.

----Book Forty, The Other



Adam: So, the other guy is missing. Very suspicious.
Ifi: Have some sad backstory

<Mertil and I were fighter pilots. We came up through the academy together and each earned a reputation for excellence and bravery. However, no one is immune to the vagaries of war. During the battle with the Blade ship, the battle that destroyed the Dome ship, my fighter was hit and the main engine was destroyed. Almost immediately I lost control and slammed into Mertil's already damaged fighter. Our wings somehow locked and, as one, the ships spiraled to the ground. I was sure we would both be killed.>

He paused, then after a few tense moments, he continued.

<Instead, we became two more living causalities of war. For some reason, we both survived. Spent several excruciating months hiding in the woods, dodging prying eyes, until I was able to acquire a human morph and venture into the world. You see, I only sustained minor injuries. A few burns, easily healed broken ribs. Mertil, however, was more seriously hurt. In time, he recovered from his other injuries. But his tail—it was severed. And because of his inability to utilize the morphing technology, there was nothing that could be done. He will never be restored to his normal self. And now, I am no longer a warrior inthe service of the Andalite world. I am Mertil's protector and friend. After all,> he added, his thought-speak dark, <if I had been able to maintain control of my plane, Mertil might not have suffered as he has.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: I am just going to sit in the corner and be sad now.
Ifi: I'm not done

<Terrible,> Ax said. There was a trace of sympathy in his thought-speak. Just a trace. <Mertil was deprived a hero's death and forced to live out the rest of his days as a vecol.>

<I am happy Mertil is alive,> Gafinilan countered.

I believed him.

"So, where is he?" I asked. "I'd like to meet him."

<Impossible!> Ax.

<No!> Gafinilan.

"Oookay. So, can I ask why?"

"It is unthinkable to intrude upon the isolation of a vecol,> Ax explained. <His isolation is the only dignity he has.>

"Well, it's not like I'm going to point and laugh or anything," I said. "I can't even say 'hey' to the guy?"

No answer, from either Andalite.

Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. Probably. But there are some topics I just can't let alone. I faked a laugh. "You Andalites need some serious attitude adjustment when it comes to the differently abled."

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: This is horrible and awkward
Adam: Marco, I am going to have to agree with you here.
Ifi: But Galfinilan luckily has a way to diffuse to situation
Ifi: Medical oatmeal~!

Ifi: I mean grass.
Ifi: Medical grass.
Adam: It's organic.

<Aximili!> Gafinilan said heartily. Changing the subject. <Will you honor me by sharing some illsipar root?>

Here's the thing. When Ax is in human morph he can't get enough of cinnamon buns. I mean, it's frightening. Well, I saw that same crazed look flit across his normally expressionless Andalite face. The look that says, "Give it to me now or I will be forced to hurt you."

<Thank you,> he said carefully. <I have not had illsipar root since leaving the home world.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: Dude, Ax is underage.
Adam: Not cool.
Ifi: Ax we need to talk about peer pressure
Ifi: When all your friends are getting high off illsipar roots, it's tempting to follow the crowd
Ifi: But you have to have the courage to say NO
Adam: C'mon ghostwriter, I already did the fake anti-drug poster.
Ifi: I want a picture of a shady Andalite standing in an alleyway holding some sort of alien plant
Ifi: But seriously there are so many drugs in this series
Adam: This and 17 and Visser...
Adam: Am I missing anything?
Ifi: The book where they raided the crackhouse
Ifi: To rescue the Chee lady
Adam: Ah, yes.

<I have grown the illsipar from seeds from my home world garden,> Gafinilan explained. In his oddly huge hand, he held five or six stalks of what looked a lot like scallions. Except pinkish. <It is a hearty plant and grows well here.>

I watched, almost fascinated, as both Andalites placed several stalks of the root on the ground and then proceeded to eat them in the normal Andalite fashion. Crushing the plant beneath their hooves and absorbing its nutrients.

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: So they get high and Marco wanders around to look at the flowers in the meantime
Adam: He goes and acquires a bee, for some reason forgetting the fact that bees are colonial animals.

But I was going to acquire a honeybee regardless. If the bees were coming from and returning to a hive somewhere outside the greenhouse—without getting zapped by the force field — that meant they knew a safe way in and out.

[…]

<Perhaps now your prince will honor me with a visit?> Gafinilan said. <Now that you see I mean no harm. Will you tell him that I invite him to enjoy some of this home world specialty?>

<I must explain…>

"Yes, of course," I said, cutting Ax off. Hoping he'd keep quiet. "We'll extend your invitation."

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: Ax is still too stoned to argue, so they go back to talk to Jake.
Ifi: Jake is happy to meet this dude
Ifi: But Marco is like "lol no"
Ifi: But instead of talking to the group, he decides to break in all by himself
Ifi: Well no, Rachel comes too
Ifi: Because Rachel
Ifi: But seriously, what's with all the going behind the group's back, Marco?
Ifi: You're the first to flip out when someone else does it
Adam: Yes, but in this case there is tasteful interior decor for her to appreciate.
Ifi: Anyway the honeybee thing turns out to be pretty cool
Adam: For some reason the bee morph isn't as horrifying as the ant or termite.
Adam: For…some reason.

Oh, lucky me. I was a female. How did I know this? Because my abdomen was slimmer than the rounder abdomen of the male drone, for one.

But mostly because I had a stinger. It was about one eighth of an inch long and at the end of my abdomen. Kind of worked like a hypodermic needle. Except the tip was barbed so that it would stick into the skin of the honeybee's victim. And it shot poison, not some vitamin formula.

Nice to have a weapon. But don't use it, Marco, the human brain in me reminded. If I stung an enemy, part of the stinger would remain in the enemy after I'd broken free. And I would die. Just like the bee I'd acquired. The bee who'd stung me.

But as the morph came to completion, I wasn't thinking about cause and effect—sting and die. Thinking about cause and effect—that was a human brain thing to do.

And right then, I was all honeybee. All armored flying insect with a vital mission — to work and work and work for the hive. For the queen.

The hive! I had to get to the hive!

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Luckily it only takes Rachel like two pages to snap him out of it
Ifi: And nobody gets traumatized
Adam: That went a lot more smoothly than expected.
Ifi: Marco does get attacked by a wasp or a praying mantis or something
Ifi: But Rachel kills it
Adam: a robber fly
Adam: these guys:

Ifi: Is it giving kisses?
Adam: Kisses that fill you with digestive acid so it can later suck out your insides, yes.

Let me tell you I more than realized I could definitely be fried in the force field, but it was a spectacular thing to actually see. A color I'd never seen as a human. Unbelievable. Indescribable.

Something I later learned was called "bee purple." It's the color between yellow and ultraviolet on the spectrum. Too intense for the human eye to see.

Too bad. Because it was intense. And running right through it, easily marked, was a curving tunnel. Actually quite wide for a bee. And the tunnel led ultimately to a small hole in a glass panel of the greenhouse's back wall.

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: This was actually very cool
Adam: Now you know why I am still sitting here waiting for a mantis shrimp morph.
Ifi: So Marco pokes around but still no Mertil
Ifi: The Animorphs theorize that there actually is no Mertil, and he died in the crash. Gafinilan has been hallucinating him the whole time
Adam: …That would be a legitimately tragic plot twist, and on some sadistic level, I sorta wish they had gone in that direction.

Ifi: Then Ax realizes something

<lllsipar root has a medicinal use, as well. In great quantities, it eases the pain of Soola's Disease. This is a genetically programmed disease. It causes increasing pain in the joints as well as the muscles, extreme at the end. In some, it causes progressive blindness. It strikes in the prime of life and is always fatal.>

"Okay," Jake said. "I still don't understand what this disease has to do with us."

"And I don't understand," Rachel began, "why, if Gafinilan has the disease, he can't cure himself by morphing. Oh. Wait. Yes I do. His own DNA still has the disease. It's like he's trapped."

Ax inclined his head. <Exactly. The only cure is to acquire, then morph, another Andalite. One without the defective gene that predisposes toward the disease. In other words, the victim of Soola's Disease must abandon his imperfect body. He must become a nothlit>

Tobias looked at Ax with his intensely fierce hawk's eyes. <Sounds reasonable.>

<No. In Andalite society, choosing to become a nothlit in such a situation or for such a purpose is considered an act of cowardice. Morally wrong. Despicable.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Fuck you Andalites
Adam: Just acquire Ax
Adam: It will dectuple your life expectancy.
Adam: If not for you, then so your wounded boyfriend won't have to watch you slowly waste away and die.
Adam: I mean, the whole reason you were hiding away was so that you can take care of him.

Ifi: So the Animorphs suspect that the real reason Gafinilan wants to meet Jake is because he thinks Jake is a young strong Andalite male he can beg/borrow/steal DNA from
Adam: I would have morphed someone younger.
Adam: Yay increased lifespan.
Ifi: So when Jake goes to his house to meet him, the other Animorphs are already inside, in bee morph.
Ifi: And Gafinilan pretty much acts exactly like he wants to murder Jake and assume his identity
Ifi: Luckily, before he can murder Jake, he gets an athritis attack or whatever
Adam: Yay crippling illness!

<lt is true. I have Soola's Disease. But what I have done I have not done for myself. I have done all for Mertil.>

<Obviously, Mertil is not morph capable,> Ax said. <I do not understand.>

The ghost of a small, self-mocking smile appeared in Gafinilan's main eyes. <You see? Nobody understands. I suppose there is no reason to keep the truth from you,> he conceded. <Some human, some meddlesome, possibly innocent human stumbled upon Mertil feeding. Visser Three saw the tape—whether on television or in some other way, I do not know. But it was enough. Mertil was seized by the Yeerks. Only then did the visser discover that Mertil was a vecol.> Gafinilan's voice tightened. <Of course, the Yeerks have no use for a mere cripple. Especially one who is not morph-capable.>

"Blackmail?" I guessed.

<Yes. The visser used Mertil to find me and I offered to exchange myself for Mertil. After all, it was my fault that he was seen by a human. I should have protected him more carefully. But Mertil anticipated my action. In an effort to save my life he informed the visser of my medical conditions Gafinilan laughed roughly. <The visser has no more use for an Andalite with a several-month life expectancy than he does for a vecol.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: :(
Adam: Poor guy needs a hug.
Ifi: Andalites are all victims of their own society
Adam: It is tragic.
Ifi: And honestly, if the Animorphs weren't the Animorphs, if they were real Andalite soldiers, they'd probably just be like, "Lol k bye."
Adam: Even the Helmacrons got their equivalent of a feminist movement.
Ifi: So I don't really blame Gaf for trying to sell them out

<Oh, yes. Visser Three is quite clever. And quite cruel. He has offered me a trade. If I bring him a healthy, morph-capable Andalite, he will release Mertil to me.>

<And you trust him?> Rachel spat.

<What choice do I have? Trust and act, or do nothing and wait for news of Mertil's murder. When I unexpectedly encountered young Aximili, I did not hesitate to bait my trap—>

Ax interrupted. <You are willing to betray one of your own people to the Yeerks in exchange for your friend's life? For the life of a mere vecol?>

<For me,> Gafinilan stated, <it is not about action traitorous to my world. For me, it is personal. It is about friendship.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: "friendship"
Adam: Is there a way for you to make those quotes any bigger?
Ifi: "friendship"
Adam: There you go.

Ifi: So it is time to rescue Gafinilan's husband fromt the Yeerks
Ifi: But Ax has a complaint to file

Ax interrupted, <We cannot risk our lives for a vecol.>

"Okay, Ax-man," I said, my voice a little less than steady. "I've been cutting you slack on this handicapped thing because you're part of the team. But when you talk like that, like this guy is some sort of dirty, worthless thing, I have to say you're just not one of us."

<l do not and have never pretended to be human,> Ax stated.

Rachel snorted. "You're so full of it, Marco. I seem to recall your calling that Hewlett Aldershot guy who was in a coma a vegetable. No, wait, a carrot, to be exact."

"Not the same thing," I shot back. "That was black comedy. Gallows humor. Not an open or implied insult."

"Actions do speak louder than words," Cassie said quietly.

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Ax if you were anyone else right now you would be dead to me
Ifi: Even so, it's so strange to see Ax replaced by this horrible hateful person
Ifi: It's like finding out one of your best friends has been racist this whole time and you never found out until now
Adam: What's worse is that he doesn't really seem to learn any better by the end of this book.
Adam: I mean, sure, he takes some flack from the group, but he never really responds to it.

<This is not about Marco,> Tobias said. <This is about Mertil. Mertil is Gafinilan's shorn, Ax. Can't you understand…>

"Whether Ax understands or not," Jake interrupted, "we're doing this. Is that understood? Good. Gafinilan, you've been in contact with Mertil?"

During our verbal skirmish, Gafinilan had remained silent. Maybe he was tired of having to defend his position.

<Mertil and I have been the closest of friends since our childhood,> he said finally. <Unless we are on different planets, we can hear each other's thought-speak. Not perfectly. Often exact words are not clear. But the sound of Mertil's voice is always with me. It helps me to know he is alive.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Well that is the hands-down most romantic damn thing I have ever read
Adam: Y'know, the whole childhood romance cliche usually makes me gag.
Adam: But this book is so gosh darn cute, I am okay with it.
Adam: Also, I wish they had explored this whole psychic link thing more.
Adam: How common is this sort of thing among Andalites?
Ifi: I choose to believe that it only exists between married couples
Ifi: and even then
Ifi: not always
Adam: But he said they were like this since they were kids.
Ifi: Soulmates
Adam: Wow, I had no idea you were such a romantic.
Ifi: I'm not but I can appreciate the rare well-done romance
Adam: Fair enough

Ifi: So they find Mertil in a trainyard
Ifi: or somewhere equally random
Adam: For some reason, the Yeerks have not infected him yet.
Ifi: Nobody wants a crippled host.
Ifi: Visser Three would be insufferable
Ifi: "Hey let's have a tail-blade fight. Oh wait."
Ifi: "Ok well a morph-off. Oh wait."
Adam: They are still fast-moving, have dexterous hands and 360 degree vision.
Adam: Certainly better than a taxxon.
Ifi: *shrugs* maybe Visser Three refuses to let anyone be as special as him
Adam: Then why has he been trying to capture the Andalite bandits this whole time?
Ifi: om nom nom
Adam: What's sad is that is not a bad point.

Adam: So, everyone goes and does what they do best
Adam: IE: Breaking stuff

<You must go.> It was a thought-speak voice I didn't recognize. Soft and sad. A broken voice. The voice of someone after the boredom and shame of capture sets in.

Mertil.

Truth is, sure, leaving would have been no problem. I'm not stupid enough to get all excited about wading into bloody battle, four kids, a bird, two aliens—one mortally ill and possibly traitorous—against a good hundred Hork-Bajir soldiers.

I glanced at Gafinilan. He was holding tightly to the rusted axle of a caboose. Breathing shallowly.

<Gafinilan?> I said. <Tell Mertil we'll see him in a few.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: :)
Adam: So, with ten pages of the book to go, we finally meet Mertil.
Adam: He seems...interesting
Ifi: Well they get him into a train wreck

<Mertil!> I called, loping around to the back of the truck, now in real blackness again because the truck's headlights were destroyed. <You okay?>

<I am as I was.>

Great. Another Mr. Philosophy.

<Let's get this open,> Rachel said. <Before the gas tank blows or something.>

[…]

<We're trying to get Mertil out,> Rachel explained.

Gafinilan stepped forward. <Is he…?>

<l am fine, Gafinilan,> Mertil answered. <Though still in this box.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Adam: Oh dear, we have an Andalite with a sense of humor now.

<I am surprised,> Mertil said plainly, <that you were willing to risk your lives for me. As I am.>

He held the stump of his tail down, as flat as it could go against his body. As if he were ashamed. The position had to be uncomfortable.

<We don't know what you mean,> Cassie said kindly.

<I will explain,> Ax said. <He means he is surprised that we normal, healthy warriors risked our lives for a mere vecol.> He paused. Turned a stalk eye to me and added, <Or, as Marco says, someone who is "differently abled.">

<Jeez, can't we just get over this issue, please?> Rachel said. <lt's not like it's Mertil's fault he got injured. Or that he has an allergy or something. Man, I can name a few people I know who are perfectly healthy and a total waste of oxygen. In my opinion.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Facepalms all around
Adam: Like I said before.
Adam: Nobody learns anything in this book.

Ifi: So they leave the Andalites to slowly die in peace
Ifi: Except not
Ifi: because Marco goes and visits a few days later

<Well, I don't know about that,> I said. <But, look. I just want you to know—I mean, we just want you to know that if…uh, when Gafinilan, you know, dies. That you should look us up. And, well, maybe I can check in on you, too. Play some video games, whatever. Being alone, man, it's not good and…well, we could use all the allies we can get.>

Nothing. I shifted on my perch in the big old oak tree where Tobias had sat during our first visit to the house. Noted a honeybee winging its way toward the greenhouse.

Waited.

Maybe I'd offended the guy somehow. I hadn't meant to but sometimes my mouth gets in the way of sentiment. The silence was awful.

And then, suddenly, his voice came booming out at me. Strong and energetic and quivering with something that sounded a lot like pride.

<Thank you, Aristh Marco. Perhaps I will do so.>

----Book Forty, The Other

Ifi: Spoiler alert: he won't
Adam: Well, now I am sad.
Ifi: I choose to believe that he just killed himself after Gafinlian died
Adam: …You're just intent on making me as depressed as possible after that book, aren't you?

Ifi: Depressing as it was, this was a very good book
Ifi: The writing was good, the plot was great
Ifi: there was minimal bickering over moral non-issues
Adam: There was a ton of bickering over moral issues that never got resolved though.
Ifi: Well that was more of a cultural thing
Ifi: And while it's not really ok to call someone else's culture "right" or "wrong" the Andalites were pretty blatantly hateful
Adam: They still should have ended this book with some sort of character growth on Ax's part, and that never happened.
Ifi: Yeah that was a bit odd
Adam: Yes, but otherwise this was an excellent book.
Ifi: Certainly better than the last time we met some Andalites
Adam: And for the record, my personal canon is that when the Andalites finally arrive on earth, they have long since synthesized a cure, and so Gafinilan and Mertil go home and have lots of adopted babies.
Ifi: Or that sure
Adam: What is this strange objection you have to my happiness?
Ifi: I dunno. I think it has something to do with my capability for joy being slowly eroded away by thousands of terrible puns.
Adam: They say that those who are tired of puns are tired of life.
Ifi: Nobody has ever said that ever.
Adam: I just did.
Ifi: You don't count. You're not anyone.
Ifi: You're just you
Adam: So cruel

66 comments:

  1. I could swear I remember reading a fanfic where Elfangor survived the construction site, met Gafinilan and Mertil, and then ended up becoming bros with them while single handedly winning the war.

    Or maybe I just hallucinated that entire scenario just now.

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    1. Have you been stepping on illsipar root again?

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    2. No, I read that fanfic too! Or, at least I think I did. Was it called "Elfangor's Folly"?

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    3. "Ellfangor's Folly" by Kim Hoppy, perhaps? While "bros" is perhaps over-exaggerating their relationship there and Eva gets the chance to be awesome while Al is winning the war, it is a fun fic.

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    4. Maybe "Elfangor's Folly" by Kim Hoppy? Although it plays down the elements you mention at least somewhat, I think it covers both Elfangor meeting the boys and saving Earth.

      (My apologies to Adam and Ifi if this comes through twice; I can't tell if it's updating or deleting my posts.)

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    5. Which reminds me of a solution raised by another AU: Gafinilan does not morph Mertil to cure himself because... Mertil's DNA is allerigic to being morphed?

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    6. Wouldn't that be weird for them though? There's the social stigma that goes with it, and instead of seeing his 'close friend', Mertil would be seeing himself, except not really.

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    7. I don't think Mertil would care. Yeah, it'd be weird, sure, but I bet he'd much rather have Gafinilan stay alive. Kinda like how most Andalites (like Ax) would've thought Mertil was better off dying in the crash, but Gafinilan was like, uh, no, I'm just glad he's alive, I don't care what he looks like.

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    8. There are two reasons that didn't happen.
      One, that would be mean. Gafinilon would be using Mertil's flawless body while Mertil would remain trapped as cripple and remain shunned by his society. It would be mean.
      Two, remember, Gafinilon had already been seen as a human, as well as a job and house as a human. If he had permanently morphed Ax or Mertil of any Andalite, he would have to evacuate the house, which has evidence of him and Mertil for Yeerks to find. The only way he could morph to heal himself was to trap himself as human, which would leave him and Mertil tailblade less. It just couldn't work logically.

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    9. Don't forget social stigma!

      "What, how DARE you accuse me of such a despicable thing?! I would NEVER do something that would harm nobody, save my own life, and allow me to continue caring for my bff/lover! I AM NO COWARD!!!"

      Stupid Andalite culture. :-( Honestly, I think that's the main reason Gafinilan didn't just morph Mertil. He thought it was somehow cowardly.

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    10. No, because remember, Gafinilon rejected the Andalite social stigma when he stuck around with Mertil. I think he didn't use morphing to heal himself for practical reasons, as well as not wanting to be a human, because he wanted to die as an Andalite.
      I like to imagine that after the war, the Andalites find them, and have found a cure for Stoola Disease(nanosurgery and parent DNA), and figured out how to get rid of Mertil's allergy (super advanced allergy shots) and they go home. The end.

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    11. in #50, only a small percent of disabled kids healed by morphing. Tobias' mom was actually the first time we ever had reason to believe morphing could cure long-standing conditions, DNA-logic or not, it was completely unproved, untested theorizing.

      Morphing Mertil wasn't guaranteed to help. and the guarantee of awkwardness is rather large. this is why the Animorphs only morphed sentient people in emergencies. imagine living with your clone. that'd just be frikkin wierd.

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  2. "What is this strange objection you have to my happiness?" I need to use this.

    I also liked the "secret racist" analogy for Ax. I'm actually very bored with the benevolent alien race stereotypes we sometimes get in sci-fi, so making Andalites generally good with some fairly glaring flaws gives them a sense of realism. Closer to humanity at the very least. I also thought back to that episode of Community with the trampoline: "It's going to be a maze!"

    Oh, and here's a special pun just for Ifi. You know what the front cover blurb for this book should have been? "Don't Worry, BEE Happy."

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  3. I stand by my explanation of herd-mentality for the Andalites and their honor code. For them, the group is all important, which is why Ax was sad he could not die with the rest of the crew in book 18. A vecol cannot pull his weight and lets down the group. For reasons too numerous to go into, military organizations tend to hold onto atavistic mindsets much longer than other aspects of society, so even if the technological progress has obviated most of the need for a warrior to have a tailblade, it's plausible that they'd still reflexively recoil against such a 'useless' warrior. And too, Andalites probably use their tails as reflexively as we raise our arms in defense or outrage. It also has a number of cultural implications, what with the severing of the blade for punishment, and touching blades in certain ways. Hell, the Andalite term for BFF is "tailblade".

    And while they might seem regressive in this aspect, their attitude towards stimulants might arguably be more progressive than our own, so there is that.

    All in all, I'd say the Andalite prejudice against cripples is understandable, if not morally acceptable. For that matter, you don't see Andalites citing morality very often (hence their dickishness). Rather, they are always going on about honor or the greater good. Functionally speaking, honor is a system by which individuals are induced to do their part for society, so honor is just another way of saying "Greater Good." We help cripples because we can put ourselves in their shoes and say "If I were in that position, I would want help." We are instinctively selfish scavengers, so when we work at being nice to people we think of what we would want. Andalites are more selfless, so when Ax puts himself in Mertil's shoes (well for one thing, it might explain his hostility to Rachel in his last book), he isn't thinking "I would want help" or "I would want company" he is instead thinking "I would be so embarrassed at not being able to help my friends."

    That might also why Mertil does not take Marco up on his offer - he doesn't want to waste the time of these warriors who are holding the line and defending their home planet and his current world of residence against their mutual enemies.

    I think the Yeerks might not want Mertil because an Andalite is a bit conspicuous in a stealth invasion, without the combat potential of a Hork-Bajir. Also, a tall quadruped is probably not compatible with spaces, equipment and furniture designed for bipeds and crawling worms. And maybe the attitude toward vecols has leaked across from Alloran, and with Visser Three being the big Andalite expert, no one is going to contradict him when he rejects these guys as useless.

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  4. Mi piace. Mi piace moltissimo. <3 I always really liked this book, but I didn't catch onto the romance until I re-read it a few months ago ("Crap, it's 2 AM, I have to do English homework. Wait, let me read Animorphs first.")

    I always assumed illsipar root was a (more effective) version of our medicinal herbs, not really a drug. Papaya has medicinal uses, but my mom makes smoothies out of it. Illsipar root is probably just a super tasty vegetable that Ax stomped on a little too much. By the way, my brother drank a whole bottle of herbal medicine (it was legit) when he was three (I guess it was tasty?), and there were little side effects. I don't remember him being any more out of it than usual. At least his cold went away.

    Gafinilan is super cool. I like him. I'm going to guess that you guys have seen lackofa's artwork on deviantART, which I really love. Gafinilan is just awesome. And he has a cool name. I'm going to go rename my dad's friend's horse.

    AND OMG ADAM. MANTIS SHIMP OMG. I want to be a mantis shrimp. Not forever. But just for a little. THEY CAN SEE EVERYTHING AND MORE.

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    1. I have wondered for months. What the heck is a Mantis Shrimp? I mean really. I looked it up on Google but is was very vague. A lot of the pages it brought up was this site. What the heck is the thing?! (bewilderment glazes over face)

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    2. Mantis shrimp. Crustaceans of the order Stomatopoda. Known for their remarkably fast smashing or spearing foreclaws, and remarkably keen vision, capable of viewing the widest range of colors of any animal.

      See my user icon.

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    3. I definitely never mistook it for psychedelic Taxxon pop-art. Not me.

      Speaking of the mantis shrimp: you guys are familiar with 'Franken Fran'. I wondered if you first came across the Mantis Shrimp in the endnotes of that one 'Franken Fran' story/'The Man With X-Ray Eyes' rehash?

      Also, this book has a character with a degenerative, fatal disease, yet it doesn't really bring up euthanasia! Angstalites seem the kind of species to have an entire protocol for it. Kind of curious. But there were probably good reasons for ignoring it, book space the least of them.

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    4. Illsipar root can be used for recreation OR to dull the symptoms of a painful, terminal illness. Basically, Alba, it's Space Marijuana.

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  5. Two male "friends" who are extremely close, practically psychically linked and torn apart by a gradual, fatal disease that they can't cure.

    Yeah there is no way to not read that as gay.

    WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS BOOK EXISTED.

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  6. Strangely enough because of the cover the first thing I thought when I saw the Unicron clip was about Waspinator from the old Beast Wars show. Also why does Beast Wars Megatron and Visser Three teaming up suddenly sound awesome in a strange way?

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  7. I love the "secret racist" analogy. But I think that the lack of closure on Ax's attitude to vecols makes sense, for the most part. How often do people actually change their mind when they're holding a minority opinion and your only debating technique is to nag and belittle them for holding it? The books have gotten away with it before because Ax tends to be confronted by some kind of glaring contradiction between Andalite beliefs and Andalite practices. But here, he's not really confronted with anything that contradicts his culture. Mertil seems to toe (hoof?) the Andalite line as much as Ax does, and his role as a damsel-in-distress rather than as a hero would probably cement Ax's view on the value of the disabled.

    Considering how many other assumptions Ax has given up during his time on Earth, it seems kind of refreshing when Marco can only think "it's a start" when Ax theorises that Gafinilan can ignore Andalite cultural norms because of his friendship with Mertil. That's the most the Ax will allow. Ooh, and 'sides, this is going to come up again, isn't it?

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  8. I never really thought if those guys being a romance, although in hindsight it does seem that way. I thought of it more in a Heterosexual Life Partners sort of way. Still cute.

    It's kind of like a Nick Sparks movie or something if you think about it. I mean, come on, that's way too much tragedy for one couple. Allergy to morphing, AND a crash resulting in serious injury, AND a horribly painful genetic disorder? Not fair.

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    1. This is Animorphs. There is no such thing as "too much tragedy."

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    2. I think it makes Gafinilan's friendship more exemplary and heroic if he's not getting sex out of it. There's a reason why Plato theorized that non-sexual friendship is the highest form of love. The fact that people have mixed up his idea to make "platonic" relationships out to be inferior to sexual partnerships does not change the validity of his point.

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    3. How do Andalites even have sex?? /shot

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  9. Oh man this one book was pretty great. I love how the Andalites are good guys but still have a lot of dickishness going on. K.A. likes her flawed hero types. And I totally missed the subtext when I was 9 or 10 or so, but wow these two are married. Soulmates. True soulmates. I like to think that Gafinilan decided to just trap himself in human morph and live under the radar for Mertil's sake after the disease progressed far enough.

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  10. Maybe Mertil never takes Marco up on his offer because Gafinilan is still alive at the end of the series? I mean, like you said at the beginning of this entry, it's actually almost over. How much time passes between now and the last book - like, a year, if that? Maybe he just lasted longer than expected and saw the end of the war.

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  11. I-I just assumed that they were really good friends.

    And Ilsipar root could just be the equivalent of beer, you know.

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    1. Really good friends who ignore ancient and cruel societal stigma about the disabled and can hear each others thought-speak across the planet? Yeah... Married. Totally married.

      Plus, beer is still a drug.

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    2. Beer is not a commonly known remedy to alleviate the symptoms of a terminal illness and eye conditions.

      And no teenager gets that excited to get a hit of beer.

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    3. I thought of it more like chocolate.

      If I'd been on an alien planet with weird food for a couple of years, my face would probably light up if someone offered me chocolate...

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    4. I saw it more like chocolate or coffee. If you were stranded on an alien planet for years, and then some guy turned up and went, "Hey, you want some coffee?", then... yeah. Ax's reaction wasn't that OTT.

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  12. I love this book so much.

    This right here: “His voice came booming out at me. Strong and energetic and quivering with something that sounded a lot like pride.”

    Say what you will about the story being tragic and depressing. That right there is awesome and uplifting. Marco talks about people judging you based on certain aspects of your identity you can’t change. Like being handicapped. Having a dead mother. Being short. He could very easily have added: being black, white, Latino, Asian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, rich, poor, etc. Mertil gets a lot of crap for something he cannot change about himself, and he obviously internalizes it. When we first meet him, Mertil thinks he’s as worthless as Ax does. And that is probably the saddest thing about this whole situation. But then. That final line. “Something that sounded a lot like pride.” Maybe Ax was never able to see much value and worth in Mertil, but I like to think Mertil finally saw it in himself.

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  13. (SPOILER ALERT)

    Much to Ax's chagrin, however, the Animorphs eventually wind up working with not one, not two, but twenty-three allies who are all vecols.

    But yeah, I do like this book. I think I would have liked it more if Mertl and Gafinilan became recurring characters like Erek and co. did. Even if they didn't actually contribute much, you'd think that the Animorphs could occasionally check up on them and such, see how they're doing, etc.

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    1. True :-) Hopefully at that point, Ax FINALLY changes his attitude.

      Oh, Ax… he’s a product of his society. Just like, well, everybody. Remember the beginning of the MM 3? Those versions of the Anis had some pretty awful prejudices, not necessarily b/c they were horrible people, but b/c they were brought up in a society that fostered those beliefs.

      Anywho, Ax’s attitude here is revolting, but at the same time, it’s what he was raised to think, so I can’t totally blame him for it. What’s sad and frustrating, though, is that he doesn’t change much. Except… he does at least admit you could say “differently abled” instead of “vecol.” And he tells Mertil, respectfully, that it was an honor to meet him. I like to think that shows a tiny bit more open-mindedness on his part. But idk, I always want to assume the best about people, so I maybe I’m giving him too much credit here.

      Sorry, tangent. Back to what you said - maybe Marco and/or the others did check up on them? And it just never got mentioned in the books?

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  14. Ok, so I really don't read fanfic much (except Ifi's), but I googled Mertil and Gafinilan and found this:

    http://animorphs.livejournal.com/559417.html

    and d'aww, it is the most adorable thing ever. :-) Thought I'd post it in case other people were interested in reading more about them.

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  15. On another note, how do you think the Andalites see individuals like Mertl and Gafinilan, not that there's anything wrong with that? On the one hand, it's been firmly established that the Andalites are bigoted, racist, and ableist. But on the other hand, the Andalites are a warrior race, and historically many ancient warrior socieites encouraged, erm, intimate male bonding time to strengthen the resolution of their soldiers.

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  16. I was wondering about that as well. The Spartan thing did occur to me, but at the same time I can see the Andalites being like "NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU MUST MAKE BABIES LOTS OF BABIES IF YOU ARE NOT MAKING BABIES WHAT GOOD ARE YOU?"

    Maybe mainstream Andalite culture acknowledges that same-sex relationships happen, but to pursue it in favor of a hetero relationship when it comes time to settle down is seen as selfish because if you are kissing your boyfriend all day, how can you make babies?

    idk I just made that all up right now. Babies are the only non-religious objection to homosexuality that I can think of right now. And babies aren't even that great. They take like three years to learn any tricks.

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    1. Maybe Andalite babies are like giraffe babies. < Hey mom! Look at me! Mom! I was just born, and I'm running around you! Mom, look! > They evolved from prey, so they probably need to start moving earlier than human babies.

      All the male Andalites seem to be going into the war effort as soon as possible, so it's important now. Maybe when the war is over, all the gay Andalites can get together and kiss all day and not make babies and it'll be okay.

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    2. But the Andalites are trying to SHRINK their population - at least, they were before the whole Yeerk War.

      Even with the war, they're still only letting couples have two children, and 'maybe even three'.

      You'd think they'd want to encourage homosexuality, in that case.

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    3. The baby thing is completely counter-indicated by the Andalite Chronicles, where they need special permission to have a second kid.

      I maintain my headcanon that Andalite reproductive biology does not have the same emotional and recreational aspects that humans do. The Ellimist's Andalite wife asking him to have more kids suggests that pregnancy just does not occur in the course of normal marital relations. Given their psychic abilities, they probably share intimacy and demonstrate affection in more telepathic/mind-meld sorts of ways, rather than rubbing private parts together.

      I think the reproductive process would be more mechanical and functional to them, like bowel movements or body maintenance (haircuts, etc).

      That would also remove the issue of homosexuality completely from any sort of societal distaste. With love and sex separated, there is no reason to get all hot and bothered by how people express it or who with, and why bother "abusing" your baby-making parts when you can have more fun dumping emotions into each others' heads.

      Mertil's vecol status is more than enough to explain his buddy's defensiveness without needing to think there is any stigma on same-sex love in Andalite culture.

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    4. If the fanon about Andalites being herd animals that we seem to subscribe to is true, it would make sense that their babies would probably be up and walking a few hours after they're born- at least in their ancestors. As their brains got bigger, though, it's likely that they would have to deliver babies in more immature forms that require more parental care, as in humans. It might be that "modern" baby Andalites don't learn to walk until several days or even months have passed.

      From an anthropological (Andathropological?) standpoint, perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Andalites eventually gave up herd living and began to build scoops; their physically and mentally immature babies required extensive parental care that could not be provided in a nomadic, constantly moving herd. Furthermore, smaller family groups could survive on less grass and plant matter in a fixed location than a large herd, which might also explain the secondary dispersion of Andalite populations.

      Yes, I just wrote a scientific theory about a fictional alien race.

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    5. I was totally exaggerating in my first comment, and you make a lot of sense Tom Serveaux, and I agree with that comment.
      But, I still think Andalites need to be able to kinda walk a little when they're born. With lots of parental help, sure, but look at them. How would you pick up an Andalite. It sound uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially with the tiny Andalite arms. And since Andalites don't lie flat, they need enough muscle to hold them up. That's bound to be kinda heavy; humans just lie there all day, so it doesn't matter.

      I guess they could be very tiny.

      Anyway, your theory on them sounds good. A good use of your time, I believe.

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    6. To Ifi's original comment about homosexuality in Andalite culture...
      Well, in ancient Greece (or, well, classical Athens, anyway, which is where most of our literary sources are from) "homosexuality" wasn't really a thing; it was just normal for men to have homosexual relationships with 12-15 year-old boys *in addition* to their heterosexual relationships with their wives. The Andalites might have something similar going on, where homosexual and heterosexual relationships are seen as so utterly different that there's no reason you can't have a committed boyfriend and *also* fulfill your social obligations by marrying and having babies.

      [/classics major]

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  17. This book is fucking beautiful and I wish I could marry it and have beautiful book children that are as awesome as this one!

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  18. I just realized that the cover text is, "This is your brain. This is your brain with a yeerk. Any questions?" which is a parody/shout out to the old '90s "This is your brain on drugs," PSA.

    Which is on the cover of the book where Ax, on a positive note, excitedly and gleefully gets high off of alien drugs. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it's amazing either way.

    On a side note, my personal headcannon is that Ax was a year or so older than the other kids, but his inexperience at certain things and willingness to work with them made him seem younger/the same age.

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  19. I still would have liked "Don't Worry, BEE Happy!"

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  20. Yeah I don't believe the Andalite military send the equivalent of thirteen year olds off to war... I just assumed Ax was 15-16 but, being both an alien and 'just' an aristh, he was happy to take direction from reasonably mature Jake.

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    1. No, actually, KAA specifies that Ax is only three Andalite years old, but their years are a lot longer than ours, so she says that Ax is still the same age as the other Animorphs in human years.
      (see Seerowpedia article on Andalites)

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    2. Andalites use a different calendar than humans, although it still is in years (The Hork-Bajir Chronicles gives the Andalite date). Andalite years are in ten 'periods' or months, and are given like this: 7544.2. One Andalite year is equal to 84 Earth months, or about 8½ Yeerk cycles; as a result, K.A. Applegate has stated that Ax is only three or four Andalite years old, though this is equivalent to the ages of the other Animorphs.
      -Wikipedia.com

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    3. My calculator says that 84 months is 7 years. So, one Andalite year = 7 Earth years. So Ax is 21 - 28 Earth years old. Do Andalites mature slower than humans?

      By the way, where did Wikipedia get that information? I don't remember that being mentioned in the books, and here are the dates in the Hork-Bajir Chronicles:

      Andalite: year 8561.2
      Yeerk: Generation 685, mid-cycle
      Hork-Bajir: early-warm
      Earth: 1966

      and then,
      Andalite: year 8563.5
      Yeerk: Generation 686, early-cycle
      Hork-Bajir: late-cool
      Earth: 1968

      2.3 Andalite years have gone by, while 2 Earth years have gone by. What.

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    4. Yeah... but this is Animorphs. Consistency is not a big thing, at least not for details like this. Though I gotta say, I'm impressed by your efforts to figure it out :-)

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    5. And then in The Andalite Chronicles, it says at the beginning that Elfangor would get a brother in a few years, which I'm assuming would be at least 18 human years, which would mean . . . Gah, my brain hurts.

      I'm just going to say that he started as the Andalite equivalent of a human who's about about 14 and a half/pushing 15 years of age physically and/or mentally.

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    6. Wiki gets its info by asking KAA on Twitter or whatever.

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  21. This is why I wish they'd built the transponder sooner. Then nothing would stop them from calling up what's-his-name on the Hork-Bajir home world and saying "Hey, Quaffy, you doing anything with that vast knowledge of biological engineering for a few days? You said you had like a year and a half left, right?" He comes, rewrites our dynamic duo's DNA so that Gafinilan is cured and Mertil can use the morphing tech, bing bang boom, the Animorphs have new allies and the Yeerks have reason to crap themselves in fear.
    But then considering that this is only one in a large number of plot threads that is picked up and never used again, I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised.

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    1. Biology doesn't work that way. You can't just rewrite someones DNA, at least not without morphing. If the Arn took Mertil's DNA and Ixcila, and then cloned him, killed the original, then implanted the Ixcila, it still wouldn't work. The clone would have it's own mind and personality, possibly radically different from Mertil's. If that is the case, then the Ixcila wouldn't even take hold. Gafinilon's DNA itself is ill,so if you clone him, the clone would have Soola's Disease too. There is no way too really give someone the power when they are allergic of it, and Gafinilon can only save himself through becoming a nothlit, and the only practical nothlit he could become is human, which cannot be, because he wants to die an Andalite. These too are cornered with death. There is nothing the Arn can do.

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    2. You don't know that they weren't at least capable of it. They were able to modify their own biology so that they could not be infested.
      But whatever--I just wish they hadn't forgotten about these things.

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    3. If I recall, they just weakened a vein to burst under pressure and kill them and did it to them as they were born. Humans can do that. In order to change their DNA, they would have to create an embryo, alter the DNA through grafting new genetic material, then implant it in the womb, or do it to a natural embryo and alter it through chemotherapy. Or, if they do the artificial embryo thing, plant it in an artificial incubator, then allow it to hatch, and then are aged quickly through staying in the incubator, til it is broken out of the incubator, and will age normally (hopefully). But the final option have un unprecedented affects on the clone (that's what it would be). Still won't work.

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  22. I found a great fic talking about Gafinilan's last days. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6483599/1/Weightless

    There's a ton this book didn't touch. Wish we saw more of Mert and Gaf.

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  23. Remember that time in a previous book that Ax was horrified at the idea of doing science experiments on animals? At first I thought that was swell, but then I wondered, what DO they use for experiment? Volunteers?

    Then I thought of this book and came to a horrible realization: they probably experiment on disabled people.

    (Possibly the ones who don't go hide in isolation.)

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  24. Am I the only person wondering why the Animorphs didn't offer the morphing cube to Mertil? They are in possession of it at this point, aren't they, considering it was all over the plot of the last book?

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  25. we had human drugs in some books, Yeerk drugs in 17, Andalite drugs now. Sometimes I wish I was an alien... *puts on Andalite costume and stomps all over the garden* *also tries to make the book 17 oatmeal but ends up blowing up the kitchen* *picks up bits and puts them in ear*

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  26. So Soola's Disease is like, what, Andalite Huntington's?

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